Monday, November 21, 2011

Lets Talk About Blogging - Subtitled: I Am Not the Exception (and Neither Are You)

There's a bunch of conversation bouncing around the superhighway right now about things writers shouldn't blog about. (If you haven't run across it, there's a good post here and another one here).

It got me thinking about ways we go about building our brands, making our marks, trying to get ourselves noticed. And how easy it can be to overlook our own flaws when we're blogging or using social media.

Not sure what I mean? Well, in my head, the conversation went something like this:

Voice #1: These Agents and Authors really know what they're talking about. I agree with gusto! Hear hear! Kudos! And all that jazz!

Voice #2: But it doesn't really solve the problem, does it?

Voice #1: Problem? What problem?! I don't do those things. I'm Awesomesauce.

Voice #2: [Rolls theoretical eyes] What about last year when you told everyone your manuscript was 'ready' and gave all the other writers a pep talk about waiting to submit?

Voice #1: Well... yes... it was a mistake. But at least I-

Voice #2: And what about that time earlier this year when you got all hot under the collar about self-publishing TWO MONTHS before the entire industry turned around and started paying attention to independent authors?

Voice #1: Misguided, maybe, but to be fair even the professionals were-

Voice #2: And what about the relationship you buried with an editor by blogging about expensive services at the same time a professional editor was reviewing your book for free?

Voice #1: Shhhh! I haven't told them about that!

Voice #2: [Stares meaningfully]

Voice #1: [Pouts] So what's your point?

Voice #2: My point is, it's easy to overlook your own mistakes because you see it from your point of view. What you meant as an analysis of the writing industry profit-machine could be taken as a rant. What you meant to be an insightful examination of the process of polishing, could be seen as the blind leading the blind, and so on.

Voice #1: So, I shouldn't blog about anything because it might be misconstrued?

Voice #2: That's not what I said.

Voice #1: Can you clarify then, so I can go back to being Awesomesauce?

Voice #2: [Facepalm]

If you didn't catch it, what I'm trying to say is: Sometimes I get it wrong. And sometimes I don't realize I got it wrong until it's too late. And sometimes I see something someone else wrote and think "Uh oh!" - while that person is merrily tapping away, unable to see that what they're saying is unwise.

We all do it because we're terribly biased about our own stuff - even when we're trying not to be.

So I guess I'm encouraging myself (and you) to put aside our pride and excuses, and admit to ourselves (and our alter-egos) that we might need to think twice about what we're putting out there.

The hard part isn't recognizing when something might be 'iffy'. It's not justifying it in your own head. Because when Voice #1 and Voice #2 are the only ones who get to see the conversation, it really isn't helping anyone.

Your Turn: Has there been a time you've blogged, tweeted / social-media'd something that came back to bite you? What did you learn that all of us could benefit from?


  1. How about... I (publicly) said I wasn't going to enter that VERY WELL KNOWN writing competition and then (publicly) had to admit I did and then I (publicly) regretted it and wished I hadn't because my entry was a bit rubbish and nose dived? Still, I think it's good to let it all hang out. You don't want bloggers to be perfection, you want them to be people. Otherwise you would pick up a reference book. And people come with warts and all. It's enjoyable seeing someone on a learning curve and refreshing, funny and hugely reassuring to read them reflecting on their mistakes. Who wants perfection? I just want awesome sauce on my bloggerific ice cream, and I always get it here ;-)

  2. It reminds me of the time when I was a mom. I mean a teacher. I mean a writer. I mean a human. :)

  3. Oh yes. I'd previously thought platform and building a 'brand' were the most important thing (next to writing an absolutely sensational book). Ie, if your brand is dystopian, don't confuse the audience with a fantasy romance adventure plus cyberpunk.

    I wasn't way off, but I was off a fair bit and after reading some very good advice - about ignoring branding for now, and focusing your writerly attention on your audience. Focus on who your audience is and write for them.

    By doing that, you will be writing books that appeal to an established audience - an audience you can build on. Worry about the 'brand' a fair way down the track.

    But you know what? I could still be wrong. I simply try to be as right as I can about writing, with the information I have at hand.

  4. I'm not sure I can fully get behind this "what you shouldn't blog about" thing. I mean, yes, you should definitely put thought into what you're going to say and apply some censorship to yourself in the same way you would in a crowd of people. However, you also shouldn't compromise your integrity because someone put up a list of things that you shouldn't blog about. Be smart, and be true to yourself. Don't not say something that you will continually regret not saying. Even if it is on a list.

  5. Oh, and my current post is the closest I am to something I may not should have posted. It was a hard post to write, but I knew I would hold it against myself if I didn't do the review.

  6. Andrew: I agree about being true to yourself. I don't think (or at least, I haven't read) anyone's saying you shouldn't speak up or can't address issues that are controversial. I think it's more to do with striving for a level of professionalism.

    In the corporate environment there are certain subjects that we have to be very careful when addressing. I think bloggers who are seeking commercial success in traditional or independent publishing want to walk carefully in certain waters.

    In truth, we're ALL going to hit the wrong tone at some point, or strike a dissonant chord. I guess the idea is to avoid doing it too much. And certainly to avoid doing it intentionally.

  7. Charity - Well said! And thanks, girl :)

  8. Hm. I haven't noticed any missteps you've made. Can you re-post them?
    Lookit, we all step in it from time to time. Accidents happen. I shy away from politics and hot topics.
    Dissing Kim Kardashian is the exception.

  9. It's a tricky thing, being honest yet gracious. :) There were a couple of posts back in the day where I ranted about a book I'd read, wanted to like, and hated. I've since gone back and unposted those posts, but it still happened, and I wish it hadn't. :/

  10. Okay, not YET (fingers crossed) or not that I know of. I have gotten in a bit of "trouble" with posting YouTube videos and being a bit careless with copyright videos/photos. So I guess you can say I have been a bit risky with that. I don't post that stuff as much as I used to anymore, cause I would hate to see my blog flagged or something. But, hey, we all mess up (just google the terms "tweets that have gotten someone fired" and you will know that a lot of us make those mistakes!)

  11. Great post Aimee. I'm usually careful not to write anything I'll regret down the track, just because everything on the internet is so permanent.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!